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Day Twenty Two
Back home and time to reflect on a wonderful holiday, we covered just over 2600 miles through eight countries and the Enigma behaved faultlessly. Despite some long days in the saddle, the driving position and comfort of the seats meant that this was a pleasure rather than an ordeal. The scenery varied dramatically and the focal point of the Mille Miglia did not disappoint. The weather was excellent with only about an hour in total driving through rain, the only other time we raised the hood was because the sun was too strong.
With the exception of the Ibis at Asserviliers, all the hotels were excellent and the company of Dave and Rita outstanding.
The only niggle was Jason (the sat nav) when working, the directions were faultless – clear and precise – the problem was that all too often the program crashed at the critical moment when you needed to negotiate a junction. The software is the Igo program, I will have to do some research into upgrading it.
Day Twenty One
Once again we had a day to make it to the ferry but this time it was only 20 minutes down the road, so we had a very pleasant day exploring Brugge, it is a really interesting city, and even more so if you venture away from the normal tourist spots.
The hotel had an underground garage so we were able to leave the Enigma there as we walked about.
This time, when we reached the port, the ferry was waiting and we boarded for our “cruise” to Hull.
What a terrible night, the room was like an oven and the humidity high so we had to open a window, unfortunately just outside was a truck park and the wagons arrived and left all night noisily.
In the morning, the Barratts headed for the Eurotunnel and we had a day to cover the 150 miles to the ferry, so we selected a route that took through some of the wonderful countryside of northern France and southern Belgium. Arriving in Zeebrugge early, we headed for the up-market seaside resort of Knokke and enjoyed a stroll along the beach.
When we got to Zeebrugge at the appointed time, there was no ferry, the Pride of Brugge that had struggled to get us from Hull was now out of commission and the sailings were only every other day, so we booked into a hotel in Brugge for the night.
Another day on the motorway it it has not got any cooler with the temperatures up in the lower 30’s. There were two main route available but as we didn’t fancy getting tangled up in the Paris traffic, we headed up the east of France past Dijon, Troyes and Rheims.
As we were passing Rheims, we popped off the motorway to take a look at the pits on the start/finish straight of the old Grand Prix circuit, this is just a stretch of the public road but the grandstands, control tower and pits are still standing. The circuit formed a triangle of roads and, with the exception of the hairpin to the west, you can drive round what was once the track.
Our final hotel of the trip is the Ibis at the service area at Assevilliers and it is the first disappointment, the air con has packed up!
With the Monza Formula 1 circuit in the park opposite the hotel, , it was an obvious start to the day. In the process of driving o the track, we found ourselves in the middle of a marathon event with runners streaming along the access road, after the bulk had passed, we were able to gently pick our way through. The marathon was actually finishing on the start/finish line of the circuit and with all the activity going on, we were able to slip onto the track and take a few pictures.
After that it was a case of hitting the motorways, destination France. We have come to the conclusion that Jason (the Sat Nav) is a teenager, this would account for the sudden loss of interest at the critical moments and would also explain that very teenage problem of waking up in the morning, it took a number of goes to get the route sorted before we could set off.
It was a very long and hot day, starting with the flat land between Milan and Turin, we turned left and headed up the valley to the Mount Blanc tunnel and the scenery changed dramatically with the huge snow covered peaks towering way above us. The tunnel itself is 11km long and when you emerge, you are in France. After that it was a few more hours up the motorway to Tournus in Burgundy where we enjoyed a very pleasant meal on an open terrace.
From now on its North all the way, we left San Marino and used the Autostrada virtually all the way to Monza. We took a diversion to see the famous Enzo and Dino circuit at Imola and although we could walk round to the Acqua Minerali bend, the circuit was being used by Lamborghini for the launch of their new Huracan.
For the second time on this trip, we raised the top although this time it was not for the rain but the sun, it got hotter and hotter as we approached Milan so the last hour was spent undercover with the air con doing its thing.
In the evening we were very pleasantly surprised, after dinner, we went for a stroll over to the Royal Park opposite the hotel and there was a Jazz band playing enthusiastically on the balcony of the Royal Palace. They wore yellow Bat Man capes and masks and were having a great time, as were the people gathered around, they then led the crowd off to the rose garden where a concert was about to start. – great fun.
The cars stayed at the hotel today as we explored the town of San Marino, it is a fascinating place with tremendous views but hardly a horizontal pathway and it was very hot, so the day’s exploits were punctuated regularly with refreshments.
We left Lake Trasimeno via a small country road that snaked its way up the hill side, this proved to be the start of a section of road that wound its way up and down through the Umbrian countryside, absolutely superb, alternating between forest covered hills and green valleys with hardly any other cars.
Then after about 20 miles along a very bumpy dual carriageway, we headed east again towards San Marino and the scenery (and roads) became even more dramatic. The old part of San Marino sits on top of Mount Titano, a huge lump of rock not far from Rimini on the Adriatic coast. Our hotel was inside the city walls and a pass was required before we could negotiate the tight roads through the pedestrian only area.
The Hotel Rosa has its own covered parking area which kept the cars out of the baking sun – and the thunderstorm in the middle of the night.
A day for exploring, we drove around the back roads of Umbria and Tuscanny including the hill-top town of Montepulchiano, famous for its wines, and of course we could leave there without adding a couple of bottles to the boot.
The countryside around here is rolling and every bend reveals another great view, for a place so hot, it is surprisingly green.
Heading south again, we passed the Masserati factory before taking the Autostrada A1 down to Passignano on Lake Trasimeno.
The alternative route down the A1 would have taken us through Florence but would also have taken over 6 hours. As it was the scenery through the mountains of Tuscanny did not disappoint and the Umbrian countryside around the lake is beautiful. The temperature has gone up dramatically and if the journey had been any longer we would have had to raise the top to protect us from the sun.
We had a day on foot exploring Modena which is a beautiful and vibrant city with a history going back to the Etruscans and there is plenty to see and some very nice restaurants.
Time to leave Sirmione, we will be sorry to go, in particular the Hotel Olivi, it is definitely on the return list.
The Mille Miglia competitors have been in Rome overnight and are heading back up country today, we are off to Modena where there will be a passage check this evening. In order to ensure a parking place at our hotel, we will use the Autostrada rather than the main roads and get there a bit quicker.
We arrived in plenty of time to have a look round before heading off to the Enzo Ferrari museum; the passage check was on the road through the museum grounds, and the place was packed.
After struggling to get sight of the modern Ferraris and Mercedes that were doing the tribute run, we moved to the road outside, there were still crowds of people lining the road but we found a suitable location.
The marshals were trying to calm the drivers down, the crowd doing the opposite and there were quite a few demonstrations of the incredible acceleration and noise of these supercars.
After the Ferrari museum, the cars looped around the city, so we re-located to a junction to watch the main competitors come through.
This was an incredible sight with the O.M.s, Bugattis, Mercedes SSKs and all the rest mixing it with the traffic, they came charging up the road and turned right at a junction and they were not hanging around, the Modenese traffic moving out of the way or stopping to let them through.
Every so often a police motorcycle would come through and block the junction to allow the cars to crash the red lights.
By the time the first 80 or so cars had come through it was quite dark and not all the cars had working lights but that didn’t seem to matter.
A relaxing day today, we took a pleasant drive through the countryside on the eastern shores of Lake Garda and stopped for lunch at a biker’s café, as well as a lovely original C Type Jag, there were Gunfighter Motorcycle club members from 3 countries having lunch with their Harleys parked in a line.
Sensing that the weather was about to change, we put the hoods up, which is just as well as a flash of lightening and clap of thunder heralded a massive thunderstorm that turned the roads into rivers. In the middle of this, the Enigma decided we would rather have the windows down!
- This reply was modified 3 years, 9 months ago by Mike.
There was no need to return to Brescia on the day of the race as the cars came to Sirmione, a passage check set up in the square just outside the old gates soon attracted a crowd and a party atmosphere. Before the actual competitors came through, there was a companion event for modern sports cars, I hadn’t realised there were so many Mercedes SLS supercars made but car after car streamed into the passage check and then roared off along the side of the lake, then there were even more Ferraris from a Dino to an F40 and everything in between. Interspersed between these cars were police motor cycles obviously enjoying the event as well.
Then the competitors of the main event came through and the party atmosphere stepped up a gear, with the crowd cheering as a particularly nice car or a celebrity stopped to get their route card stamped.
Roses were handed out to the lady competitors although some of the cars made the Frogeye look big so there wasn’t much space to store them.
As with the modern sports cars, the police were heavily involved with motor cycles and Alfa Romeo Giulias with very happy occupants mixed in with the competitors.
The day was rounded off with a magnificent firework display on the lake, as with Brescia, you could not have visited Sirmione without realising that the Mille Miglia was in town.